Stating that the Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar should make all efforts to ensure resumption of mining at the earliest, the Goa Barge Owners Association president Atul Jadhav on Wednesday maintained that early resumption of mining would help the stakeholders who are financially struggling and even improve the economy of the state.
He was addressing the media onboard Princesa cruise off Panaji after completing the annual religious prayers and offering of coconut in Mandovi rivulet in order to open the Aguada sand bar (Panaji port) for the kick-start of transportation of barges for the ensuing season.
The captain of ports Captain James Braganza, GBOA secretary William D’Costa, Chandrakant Gawas, Prabhakar Naik, Pramod Dessai and other executive members, besides the parish priest of St Andrew’s church Fr Gabriel Coutinho were present.
“The Goan barge owners are in a difficult situation and do not know what the future holds for us,” said Jadhav and opined that the fall in prices of iron ore in the international market has affected the e-auction and the quantum of cargo to be exported during the current season cannot be ascertained.
“The Chief Minister Parsekar has extended the debt relief scheme (DRS) up to December 2, 2015 for barge owners, truck and machinery owners,” stated Jadhav and appealed to him to initiate steps so that the loans of barge owners are taken over by a nodal agency and the loan repayment terms (tenure of repayment) commensurate with the volume of business available.
He disclosed that during the course of ban on the mining industry in the year 2012, the GBOA had 181 barges where loan accounts amounted to Rs 363 crore and now there are loans on 114 barges, amounting to Rs 240 crore.
“Today with the stoppage of mining, the persons employed in this sector are facing difficulties and both employers and employees are looking forward to the commencement of business,” stated Jadhav.
Capt Braganza informed that the state-of-the-art terminal building at Panaji, estimated to cost Rs 20 crore, will be commissioned in another two months wherein it would provide spacious offices for the GBOA and launch owners. He informed that Panaji jetty renovation will be completed and commissioned in January 2016, while the work of dredging river Sal will be completed in two different phases after opening the tenders.